Thursday, October 6, 2011

Citrus Saffron Pasta

Since we're Catholic, during Lent we abstain from meat on Fridays.  And as a relatively new fan of seafood, there are only so many types of fish with which I've experimented, so I'm always on the lookout for new recipes, using fish I know Hubs and I both like.  This pasta dish was the perfect accompaniment to grilled salmon (I'll explain below) and salad!

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 generous pinch saffron threads, steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water (yes, I know saffron is an expensive herb, but a small pouch will last forever if properly stored; I've had mine for over a year and it's still flavorful!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
freshly squeezed juice of one orange
1/4 cup dry white wine (I'd suggest a citrusy cabernet sauvignon that you'll also drink with the meal)
1 1-lb box dry penne
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
grated zest of an orange
coarsely chopped chives, for garnish
freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

Combine the butter, drained saffron, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few pinches pepper in a small bowl and stir well until smooth.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  While the water is heating, heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the shallots, bell pepper, and a good pinch each of salt and pepper.  Saute over medium heat until the peppers are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the orange juice and wine and continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the penne and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  When the pasta is nearly done, add the asparagus to the cooking water for 2 minutes.  Drain the pasta and asparagus and add to the sauce in the skillet.  Stir in the orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt, tossing all the ingredients together, then add all of the saffron butter and toss to evenly mix.

Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chives and parmesan.

Serves 4.

Adapted from Celebrate the Rain by The Junior League of Seattle.

For a fabulous meal, marinate salmon fillets in Stonewall Kitchen Wasabi Ginger Sauce for no more than 30 minutes.  Grill over medium-high heat until medium-rare, about 5-7 minutes, flipping once.  Serve fish alongside Citrus Saffron Pasta and Pear Gorgonzola Salad.  Pair with a light and citrusy cabernet sauvignon.

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